Suspended Belfast neurologist Michael Watt has offered his “sincere sympathy” to those affected by Northern Ireland’s biggest patient recall.
Dr Michael Watt worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital as a neurologist diagnosing conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease.
Dr Watt said he recognised the “distress these events have caused”.
It is Dr Watt’s first public statement following the patient recall.
The consultant neurologist had failed in a legal attempt to stop the broadcast of the programme.
On Thursday, court proceedings finished.
The BBC can now reveal that the consultant tried to prevent the Spotlight broadcast because of the effect he said it would have on his mental health.
As part of the injunction proceedings the court was provided with evidence from a medical professional who summarised the views Dr Watt expressed during the course of a confidential medical consultation.
During this consultation he stated that he had done his best and sought to act in the interests of his patients whilst handling a big caseload.
He also said this was against the backdrop of a shortage of neurologists and that he felt that he was being scapegoated and used as “a political football due to the upcoming election”.
It also emerged during the case that Dr Watt is facing a General Medical Council hearings in April and May next year.
In a statement sent to the BBC after the ending of the court proceedings on Thursday, the consultant said: “Patient care has always been of the utmost importance to me and the key focus throughout my career.
“I have always sought to act in the best interests of my patients.
“Current investigations have highlighted concerns over the security of a number of my patients’ diagnoses. I recognise the considerable distress these events have caused and I can only express my sincere sympathy to any of my patients affected as a result.”
The publication of a report into the outcome of the patient recall was due to be published by the Department of Health (DoH) in June but that was postponed.
As part of injunction proceedings the court heard that the report had been held back since June 2019 on account of representations on Dr Watt’s behalf that its publication would have a detrimental effect on his mental health.
Dr Watt’s legal team said he was not party to the decision from the Department of Health to withhold this report but that “representations concerning this report were made by medical professionals charged with his care”.
Concluding his statement following injunction proceedings Dr Watt said: “Finally, I wish to make clear that whilst representations may have been made to the trust concerning the release of the Outcomes Report, I am unable to comment on the reason for the delay in its publication.”
The Department of Health said it would keep its position on the publication of the report “under review”.